LIW students learn 3-D printing in afterschool program

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

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The De Smet School District received a $10,000 grant in September from America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education, sponsored by the Monsanto Fund.


The district used the money to purchase a 3-D printer that incorporates modern STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs into after- school activities at Laura Ingalls Wilder Elementary School.


LIW Principal Abi Van Regenmorter is teaching 44 students in grades 3-5 in eight weekly after-school sessions.


Van Regenmorter said several high schools are working with 3-D printers, but LIW is the first elementary school in South Dakota to use one.  She said some of the biggest benefits of the program are that it helps students develop critical thinking skills and gain the confidence to try something new. “This generation was born into the age of iPads and apps,” she said. “They have no fear.”


Van Regenmorter said before they start printing, students have to learn how to design.


LIW is currently using software called City X, a simulated program where students imagine they are living on a new planet.


Each student is assigned a character and a specific problem to solve. They must invent, design and develop a prototype of something that solves their character’s problem.


The problems the fictional characters must solve represent real issues, such as housing, education, transportation or medical issues.


“Problem solving skills, higher critical thinking skills and perseverance are important,” Van Regenmorter said.


The printer at LIW uses plastic filaments to manufacture 3- dimensional objects layer by layer.


Donna Palmlund

Staff Writer

The De Smet News

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